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Would you want to live to be 100? The 2013 Cen­sus fig­ures showed 580 peo­ple in New Zealand were aged 100, or older. That’s a com­bined age of at least 58,000 years. The mind bog­gles. What they have lived through! World Wars! The first TV! The first lo­cal ra­dio!

None of the four in­ter­vie­wees in our cover story on page 8 ex­pected to reach a cen­tury. They each dis­play a re­mark­ably lu­cid mem­ory, and keep up with the world’s go­ings on. Our cover star Mar­garet Barns (101) says Trump is a “dan­ger­ous man”. Made­line An­der­son (110, pic­tured right) thinks we’re not learn­ing from our ex­pe­ri­ences of the past: “I don’t think we’ll ever learn how to stop fight­ing”.

Hec­tor Hop­kins (101) fought in WWII and finds the re­cent spate of ter­ror­ist at­tacks “dis­tress­ing”. Cen­te­nar­ian Kath An­stey isn’t im­pressed with the tra­di­tion of get­ting a card from the Queen at 100: “It’s not per­sonal... she doesn’t know me”. All onto it. Opin­ion­ated. Prag­matic. Op­ti­mistic.

Kath reck­ons she’d pass for some­one in their 80s. Based on her lu­mi­nous pho­to­graph, she def­i­nitely would. Mar­garet is a ray of light in her flo­ral blouse, red shoes, white beads and a dash of lip­pie. Glam, even. She puts me to shame, leav­ing the house late for work some­times when I haven’t even brushed my hair. Hec­tor – so non­cha­lant about his age. He asks him­self what he’s still do­ing here. “I’ve just lived”, he says. Yes, you have lived, for much, much, much longer than most. And Made­line, well, what’s to say about some­one who is 110 and looks as good as she does?

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